Archive | August, 2012

Day 40: Preparing for the Return Home

24 Aug

Well Paris, it’s been real.
I spent the day packing and cleaning my room (again)
Getting ready to leave in the wee hours tomorrow and hopefully get used to MI time again.
There are so many things I’ve done that I never thought I’d have the chance to do. And yet there’s so much more.
A small part of me wishes to go out and do everything, but a much bigger part says, “You’re tired, wait until you can go and travel with someone.” I like the second thought better.

I can’t wait to return to Paris. It’s so overwhelming that it’s really hard to do everything in one trip.
I created this blog for my friends and family to read about my adventures but also for myself.
Some may call it selfish, but I really wanted to remember what I did in France. Photos help but written sentiments help as a reminder.
I’m sure once I get settled back in MI, I’m going to forget various things, speaking French, what’s polite and what’s not.
That’s why this blog was created. For others to learn about the French culture and for me to remember.
Who knows? If I return to France within the next 5 years, things may change!

I’m so happy that (most of you) enjoyed this blog! I really enjoyed writing it and can’t wait for the next adventure.

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Day 39: Last Day in Paris

23 Aug

A few days before I’m leaving for home, It’s a little surreal.
Even though I feel like Europe is new, I think I’m more acclimated than I realize.
I woke up early today and went to meet Mark at Sacre Coeur.
Fitting that I would visit one of my favorite places on one of my last few days in Paris.

Met up with Mark, he’s going on a whirlwind tour of Europe after his study abroad in Spain. (The town name was something like Salamaque? I like to call it Salamander.)
He had to catch his train for London, I gave him a bunch of advice for what to do (he might not take it but whatever.)

After Mark left I thought of the age old question, what does one do on their last day in Paris?
Because I love the Tuileries I thought that would be a good place to go.
I mosey-d around and went to the love lock bride.
My last time venturing into Paris by myself. Thank the Lord.

I love Paris. France, you’re awesome. But I’m just not the best solo traveler.

I returned to Villennes and hung out at the house. Packing and getting ready to return to the US.

Day 38: Paris in the Rain

11 Aug

Melinda slept over and we had a lazy morning.
We ended up deciding against Versailles, too difficult to get there.
We tried to meet my friend from high school Mark at the Louvre, today was the first Sunday of the month, a.k.a. free museum day.
But we got there just as the museum was closing.
FWA, man. France Wins Again.

So we walked around the Tuileries with our umbrellas and spoke in French for about an hour or two.
I was so surprised how my French improved! I wasn’t searching for words, conjugations were coming out of my mouth correctly – score!
we ended up walking in the rain down the Champs-Elysee and watched a French movie (thanks for the free tickets, Court!)
We saw Paris-Manhattan which was about this girl who thought of Woody Allen as her idol. (Interesting premise. I think Woody Allen made this film too.)
She was kind of trying to date and look for a man and this guy who was perfect for her was right under her nose the entire time.
The film did NOT have subtitles and I didn’t understand everything, but I got the story. I understood it! Sometimes better than Melinda and she speaks French with her Au Pair kids (they don’t know English.)

After the movie we walked back to the train station (probably took about 25/30min) STILL in the rain. It was so cold.
And had an American dinner . Hamburger and French fries.
We listened to American music and then Melinda went back to her French household.

Sorry there isn’t any pictures, I didn’t want my camera to get wet.

Tomorrow I will be all on my lonesome in Paris, let’s see how it goes!

Day 37: Shopping après les Soldes

9 Aug

Melinda and I went shopping today.
The Soldes are technically over. However there are a few stores where the sales are extending to August 7th, and that’s where Melinda and I can be found.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned the different stores Paris has to offer.
Of course there are the major brands: Chanel, Louis Vuitton, etc. But who has that kind of money?
A popular store (much like Forever 21 back home) is Zara. It has multiple floors including baby and guys fashion.
I love Zara. Even though it’s based out of Spain, the French love it.
Another is Promod.
This store only carries girl’s clothes but I made my first Parisian buy. Everyone has been wearing these pastel-y florescent colored pants so I bought Peach. (Only 20 Euros, thanks Soldes!)
Peach and Mint Green are very popular for the summer time paired with a white shirt.
I’ve seen the Mint Green pants at home but had a harder time finding peach, so peach it is!
Melinda and I looked in other stores like Pull & Bear and then we ventured the Galeries Lafayette.
This store is much like that Printemps store I mentioned many blog posts back, although things here are actually affordable.
There are 7 levels all containing different things. There’s even a floor for souvenirs.
On the souvenir floor there was a whole library – jackpot.
I spent probably about an hour looking through French books. I bought way too many, but we don’t have these back home and they will definitely help me and the kids I tutor.
Melinda was totally crushing on the cashier (who graciously helped me with all my books and didn’t look at me like I was crazy)
He was pretty cute and hey, he spoke German, she was sold.
Unfortunately she was too chicken to say something and he was working so we left their relationship to serendipity!
Melinda had to watch the kids at 6pm, so we called it a night and I made dinner for myself then planned our day for tomorrow.

Day 36: Girl’s Night!

8 Aug

During the day I tried to pack all of my things into my suitcase.
I’m nowhere near leaving France (well more-so than I was before) but I just wanted to see if I could fit any new clothing/things from France.
The answer? Heck yes.

The Au Pair parents are off on a business trip this weekend so I have the house to myself!
What did I do? Invite Melinda to spend the night so it wasn’t as scary.
She had her very first Croque-Monsieur (made by moi, yes I can semi-cook) and loved it!
So we had our “gouter” (snack) and got ready to go to Paris tonight.
We ended up getting tickets for the Bato Bus which is a water taxi through a bunch of major exhibits along the Seine in Paris.

I highly recommend this for those traveling to Paris.
For an adult it’s 15 Euro for the whole day (10am – 9:30pm) and you can hop on/off and go see these major landmarks then wait about 20min for the boat to take you to the next place.
So worth it.

After traveling to the Eiffel tower and going through the whole tour of the Bato Bus, we headed back home and made dinner. Spaghetti!
Melinda slept on the pull out couch below my bed and we watched Emperor’s New Groove before we fell asleep.
Kind of a relaxing night in Paris, but tomorrow we plan to go shopping!

Day 35: Les Vacances in France

7 Aug

Today was a lazy day. I worked on my blog, gave my room a much-needed cleaning day, packed my suitcase to see if all my new stuff would fit, (SUCCESS!) and took a shower.
Lazy day in Paris.

My Au Pair mom just wanted me to go to the post office and pick up a package.
That’s it.
But nothing is that simple in France.
When I arrive at the post office I see a sign saying that it’s closed from July 30th – August 13th and to go to the branch in Orgeval. (Typical France, no store is open in August. They’re all on vacation for a month.)
I tell this to Au Pair mom and she proceeds to call La Poste and when she gets home from work, she takes me on a drive to show me where this post office is.

Upon reading this novel that Lauren gave me I’ve come up with a phrase for situations like this one.
FWA. France wins again.

On the way to La Poste in Orgeval, we stopped at a typical French supermarket. It looked like a Walmart only smaller, and much more French.
There was a whole aisle dedicated to baguettes and different cheeses and Au Pair mom got some After Eights! She’s the best.
The supermarché closes at 8pm (20:00) in France so we had to rush in, get a few things and get to the cash register otherwise they wouldn’t take us.
Another thing that Americans may not realize is you have to pay for a grocery bag.
Au Pair mom picked this one that was really cheap but at the store they don’t give you bags, you have to bring your own or buy one.
It’s kind of like our green movement back home where you bring your own reusable bag.
Typically these bags are HUGE. This ain’t no plastic cheap-o from Meijer, it’s pretty think and hold pretty much all of your groceries (since French food is in smaller quantities than American food.)

Even though it’s a lazy day, there’s always something new to learn in France.

Day 34: My Last Day as an Au Pair

6 Aug

I definitely caught some sort of something. Today is my last full day with Constantin and I will use and entire roll of toilet paper to blow my nose.

My last day Au Pair-ing in France.
It was a weird combination of “I’m so glad, now I can do things on my own!” and “Where did the time go?”
I realized that 5 weeks was gone. It really doesn’t feel like it’s been THAT long.
I get a good grasp on the time when I look back on photos or these blog posts (Speaking of which, I’ve noticed a few spelling/grammar errors. I promise to fix those.)
Crazy. So much has happened and it really hasn’t hit me until today.
When I got here Constantin spoke English only to say “no” and “yes.” A lot of it was a guessing game.
“Do you want some cereal?”
“Yes.”
“Which kind would you like?”
*silence*
*pulls out box* “Would you like this one?”
“Yes.”
Now, I went to wake him up and for the first time he spoke to me in English.
He’s speaking in actual phrases and understanding more than ever!
I did another video recording of him telling a story and he sped through it. At the end he said, “Okay, I’m finished!” Haha.
The first one took forever and this last one was about 30 seconds long.
That’s a lot of progress in a short amount of time.

He’s leaving today to join his sister in the south of France for a week.
I’m on my own. Well, with Melinda when she’s not au pair-ing but mainly, on my own.
I love teaching but this point is so bittersweet. I’ve helped him to learn English through good times and bad, and now my part is done. The next step is up to him and his parents. It’s hard to let go, part of me wants to be there every step of the way and see him grow more in his acquisition of the language. But I can’t. I just hope that the family keeps in touch from an Atlantic Ocean away.
Constantin and I did a few worksheets, we watched Ninjago (it’s a little addicting even though the writing is obviously for small children) and we headed to Au Pair mom’s work.
Last train ride together!

After taking Constantin all of these places I still wonder if people thought I was an Au Pair or a young mom?

From Au Pair mom’s work, she and Au Pair dad took Constantin and were on their way to the airport. They waved goodbye/see you later and walked down the road.
This was a familiar scene, the same thing happened when I went to Nice with Courtney. Two parties brought together by one common bond, taken away by other wants & needs. Last time I left Christine and Constantin I was exhausted, a little scared and also a little excited to be taking on France by myself.
Now, I felt comfortable. I wasn’t worried. I knew what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go and just did it.
Paris is like that. It’s so overwhelming but once you stay for awhile, you figure out a system and it stills feels overwhelming, but more manageable.

I window-shopped a little bit on my way back then headed home. Nothing exciting but it was really nice to just relax.